Everybody Needs an Editor, Part Two

You’ve heard me say this before, you’ll hear me say it again. Recently a classic illustration of this little proverb passed over my desktop. Seems the city of South Bend, Indiana, wanted to promote an article on its Web site about South Bend city schools. So they hired a PR firm to put up a billboard. Said billboard proclaimed, “15 best things about our pubic schools. Southbendon.com.”

Yep, you read that correctly. Pubic schools.

This billboard had to have been laid out by a designer at the (ahem) public relations firm, approved by someone (apparently three someones), sent in a digital file to a production staffer at the sign company who then produced the image that was installed on the sign. And no one noticed. Not an editor among them, it seems.

The story gets even more fun, though. I read about this little mishap—linked on a friend’s Facebook feed—on gather.com. Gather’s tagline is “Americans search for information 15.9 billion times each month. We create the content they find.” And what that boils down to is anyone can write a story for Gather and post it (just like a blog! Woot!). Now that’s scary, folks. Read this paragraph from their South Bend story and you’ll see why: “Interestingly, Blue Waters Group, the compnay [sic] who had set up the billboard stated that at least four people looked at the sign before it went up! Amazingly, no one caught the error! Lucky for the city of South Bend, the sign was taken down Monday and replaced with an error-free billboard.”

Um.

We can start with the typo, because that’s obvious. We’re also missing a comma; have two exclamation points too many; who used when that should have been (who is for people, that is for companies); a company “stating” something (instead of a representative of the company, who does have the power of speech); and three sentences starting with adverbs (except the last one doesn’t, actually, because our amateur reporter doesn’t understand how that works, apparently). I’ll save my rant about the inappropriate use of the word amazing for another time.

Awhile back, I commented on this phenomenon in a post about Steve Jobs’s statement that “we need editorial oversight now more than ever.” This sort of thing is exactly what he was talking about. The promotional blurb at gather.com reads, “Gather is a leading demand-driven media company. Each month, Gather freelance writers create more than 8,000 pieces of content that reach more than 9M people worldwide. We create this content for Gather owned-and-operated properties like Gather.com and for websites operated by leading consumer brands that seek to acquire and engage their customers online through natural search results.”

I sure hope those leading consumer brands have editors on staff.

Tweet: Everybody needs an editor, even you!
Tweet: A typo? Or just bad editing…?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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2 Comments

  1. Smarty No Pants says:

    My personal favourite (favorite) is the one about the tattoo artist who mis-inked (misinked/missinked) the word “Satan” on a biker’s arm, putting “Stan” instead.

  2. […] I checked my e-mail; yes, I had discussed all this with her. So I told her I thought maybe it was just semantics; I reminded her of our earlier correspondence. I sent her links from reputable people in the industry (Janet Grant, Rachelle Gardner, Steve Laube); she countered with an EzineArticles.com piece (and you know how I feel about crowd-sourced content). […]

  3. […] know, I know: these things happen all the time. (I’ve written about some of them here and here.) But wouldn’t it be nice if they […]

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Parlez-Vous Editing? on 12 April, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    […] I checked my e-mail; yes, I had discussed all this with her. So I told her I thought maybe it was just semantics; I reminded her of our earlier correspondence. I sent her links from reputable people in the industry (Janet Grant, Rachelle Gardner, Steve Laube); she countered with an EzineArticles.com piece (and you know how I feel about crowd-sourced content). […]

  2. By Am I the Only One Who Noticed That? on 20 June, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    […] know, I know: these things happen all the time. (I’ve written about some of them here and here.) But wouldn’t it be nice if they […]